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Ousted Zairian president arrives in Morocco

Mobutu May 23, 1997
Web posted at: 10:20 a.m. EDT (1420 GMT)

LOME, Togo (CNN) -- Mobutu Sese Seko, the deposed president of former Zaire, flew to Morocco on Friday aboard the presidential jet of his longtime friend, Togolese dictator Gnassingbe Eyadema.

Mobutu, 66, who is suffering from prostate cancer, appeared frail and fatigued as he entered the aircraft with the help of his wife and another person. He was accompanied by an entourage of 56 others as he departed from the west African nation of Togo.

The ousted leader arrived in the Moroccan capital of Rabat, believed to be the second-to-last stop in his exile. Moroccan officials said Mobutu, who ruled Zaire for nearly 32 years, would be allowed to stay for only a few days.

Mobutu exited the Boeing 707 and was whisked with his entourage to a coastal resort south of the capital. Dozens of police who surrounded the airport blocked traffic to allow passage of his motorcade.

The convoy included three dark vans with black tinted windows, several luxury sedans belonging to the royal palace of Morocco's King Hassan II, a white police van, and a half-dozen police motorcycles.

Mobutu was to stay at the Hotel Amphytrite in the resort of Skirat, about 20 kms (12 miles) south of Rabat.

Morocco's Communications Ministry put out a brief statement saying that Mobutu "has asked to spend several days in Morocco" before moving on to a permanent destination, which was not named.

"Given the tradition of welcome of the Kingdom of Morocco, King Hassan II was willing to respond favorably to this request," the ministry said.

Mobutu has residences in Mohamedia, 70 kilometers (44 miles) south of Rabat) and in Marrakech, 300 kilometers (190 miles) away.

Mobutu's final destination is believed to be France, where he owns a lavish villa on the Riviera.

Mobutu arrived in Togo Sunday morning after fleeing the troops of Laurent Kabila, the new leader of what is now called the Democratic Republic of Congo.

His presence had distressed Eyadema, under pressure from Togolese opposition who said it was a disgrace to have Mobutu in their country. While in Togo, Mobutu stayed at the presidential palace in Lome, but the government maintained a discreet silence on his presence.

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